Foodie Fridays: Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans & Goat Cheese
Posted by Guest in Foodie Fridays
At our house, we try to have a salad with about every other meal. Not only is it an easy way to add a few more veggies to our diet, but it's a super-easy side item that pairs nicely with almost everything. The only problem? We fall very easily into a salad rut: romaine, cucumber, tomato, a sprinkle of whatever shredded cheese might be in the fridge, and a dollop of ranch. It's tasty, but sometimes it just feels a little... uninspired.

So, when I'm feeling the need to freshen up our salads, I turn to this recipe. It's no more difficult to prepare than our old standby, but it's sophisticated enough to serve to dinner guests. The tangy vinaigrette is the perfect compliment to the sweet dried fruit and the crunchy pecans are just the right balance for the creamy goat cheese. As an added bonus, spinach is packed with lots of great nutrients, including vitamins A and C and iron.

Double or triple the recipe for the candied pecans and keep them in an airtight container for quicker salad prep or for easy snacking!

Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans & Goat Cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (5 ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup dried mixed fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup candied pecans, recipe follows

For vinaigrette, stir together mustard, garlic, sugar, lemon juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until mixture is smooth and glossy.

To assemble salad, place spinach, candied almonds, cranberries and goat cheese in a large bowl. Toss lightly with dressing and serve immediately.

Candied Pecans
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 drop freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a silpat or sheet of well-oiled foil on countertop. Place sugar in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 tablespoons water and lemon juice. Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5-6 minutes. Bring sugar and water to a boil, and boil until sugar turns deep golden brown, swirling occasionally to ensure even color. Stir in warm pecans, and immediately spread coated pecans onto silpat/prepared foil, spreading them out as much as possible to preserve whole nuts. (Pecans will be VERY hot, be careful not to touch them!) Cool completely, then break apart.

Yield: 4 servings

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